JMC : The Catholic Religion / by Charles Coppens, S.J.

The Doctrines of the Catholic Church.

121. We have proved that the Catholic Church has been commissioned by Christ to teach all nations in His name, and that all men who become aware of this commission are bound in conscience to accept her doctrines. We are next to examine these doctrines in detail. We shall explain the exact meaning of the several dogmas, prove that the Church teaches them, and show how they are supported by arguments drawn from the Holy Scripture, from Tradition, and from reason.

122. The chief points of Catholic doctrine are contained in the Creeds, or symbols of faith, which are used in the Church.

1. The most ancient of these is the Apostles' Creed, which appears to have been composed by the Apostles themselves. Rufinus, about A. D. 400, wrote an exposition of it, and said that the Roman Church had preserved it in its original form because no heresy had ever arisen in Rome.

2. The First General Council which met at Nice in 325. enlarged this Creed, chiefly with the intention to define more clearly the doctrines regarding the Divinity of Christ, which Arianism had assailed.

3. The Second General Council, held at Constantinople in 331, further enlarged the Creed, especially regarding the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, which Macedonius had denied. The Creed adopted at Nice, and thus completed at Constantinople, is what is usually called the Nicene Creed; it is recited by the priest at Holy Mass on all Sundays, On the feasts of Our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin, of the Apostles, and of the Doctors of the Church.

It reads as follows: "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages; God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten not made; consubstantial with the Father; by whom all things were made. Who for us, men, and for our salvation, came down from Heaven; and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost, of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. He was also crucified for us; suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. The third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures: and ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of the Father; thence He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, and the Son (see n. 146); who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets. And One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead, and life of the world to come."

4. The Athanasian Creed, an elaborate statement of the Catholic faith on the Trinity and the Incarnation, is found in use in the seventh century. Though probably not composed by St. Athanasius, it explains the doctrines of which he was the chief champion.

5. The Tridentine Creed was proclaimed by Pope Pins IV in 1563, and embodies the heads of doctrine adopted by the Council of Trent, in opposition to the Protestants.

6. The Vatican Creed, of Pius IX, 1870, adds to the Tridentine a clause expressing acceptance of the Vatican definitions. This is the form now used in the profession of faith required from converted heretics, and publicly read by all persons who receive any promotion in the Church.

123. In explaining the doctrines of the Church we shall follow the order of the Apostles' Creed, and consider successively, in as many treatises, the following points: 1. God in Unity and Trinity, 2. The work of the creation, 3. The Incarnation and Redemption, 4. The sanctification of the soul by grace, 5. The Sacraments, as means of sanctification, 6. The last Things.

God in Unity and Trinity.

124. All understand by the term God the Maker and Sovereign Lord of the world and of all it contains, the Supreme Lawgiver and Rewarder of good and evil. We shall consider, 1. His existence, 2. His perfections in general, 3. His quiescent attributes, 4. His operative attributes, 5. His Trinity in Unity.

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